Herb Schumann: Candidate Profile
Metro. Water Reclamation District (Republican)
Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: Palos Heights
Family: wife: Colleen son: Lucas daughter: Mackenzi dog: Mogli
Occupation: Property Tax Analyst Cook County BOR
Education: MBA Finance, DePaul University BA Public Administration, Governors' State
Civic involvement: Palos Lions Cal Sag Watershed Council
Elected offices held: Cook County Commissioner 1990-2002 Palos Republican Committeeman 1986-2002 Moraine Valley CC, Trustee 1974-1977
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what? What specific professional qualifications do you possess that would make you excel in this office?
My interest in running for this office began with my time spent as Cook County Commissioner, representing the flood prone areas along the Des Plaines River in Maine and Wheeling Townships. I found that the MWRD was an uncooperative partner in flood control planning. Most of the projects that were supported locally by municipal governments have yet to be prioritized by the MWRD, almost 20 years later. I believe that part of the problem is that eight of the nine commissioners live in the city of Chicago and have a Chicago agenda. My government and financial background is my asset.
If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
I would bring a suburban perspective to the board and an experience with one of the major flood control projects in Cook County, The Upper Des Plaines River, Storm Water Management Feasibility Study. The infrastructure of the sewer system is aging and contains a design flaw that needs to be corrected. My priority would be to work towards the long range planning and funding problems to re-design a system that keeps the waste water separate from the storm water. The current system devalues storm water as an asset that can be recycled and returned to Lake Michigan to be re-used.
How do you view the role the district has played in controlling flooding in Cook County and what, if any, actions need to be taken to improve things?
The flood control priority of the MWRD is to prevent raw sewage from getting to Lake Michigan during storm events and most of the time they are successful. Basement, yard and street flooding are designed into the system to hold sewage during heavy rain storms, so flood control for homes is a much lower priority for the MWRD. The Deep Tunnel will help, but it will have its limits. The MWRD should be incentivizing green infrastructure projects to displace storm water outside of the sewer system. Municipal projects that hold storm water outside of the sewers should be funded.
Does the board have the right number of commissioners to adequately represent all parts of the district?
As each Commissioner is elected at-large in Cook County, there is no local representation, especially in the suburbs. Single member districts would establish representative areas that would be a fairer method, although the districts would be larger than Congressional districts. Another way to establish fair representation would be to model off the old method of electing Cook County Commissioners when two districts, Chicago and suburbs, each elected a slate of candidates. Currently, only one MWRD Commissioner lives in the suburbs. On the number of Commissioners, I reject the idea that adding more elected officials is a good thing for anybody.
How do you rate the MWRD on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important
My main concern about transparency is about the collection and spending of funds for storm water management. Almost ten years ago, the Illinois State Legislature authorized the MWRD as the storm water management agency of Cook County and established a new property tax funding source. As promised to the local elected officials who supported the legislation, this funding would be dedicated to flood control projects many of which were part of then existing storm water management plans. The MWRD has been less than forthcoming in establishing its funding priorities for these funds and appears to be stockpiling the funding.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
When the combined sewer system was built, wasting water was not much of a concern. It should be now. The Milwaukee Sanitary District sets a great example of moving toward displacing storm water away from the sewers by transitioning into Green Infrastructure that soaks up water naturally, and returns it to ground water, as well as, area rivers and streams. The TARP will hold a lot of sewage, but that storage would be better utilized to hold rainwater only. Sparing the higher treatment costs and being able to return storm water to Lake Michigan will offset costs.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Paul Ryan, as a Wisconsin congressman, was an early supporter of federal efforts in reducing Des Plaines River funding.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
That education never stops
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Finding 1000 more votes in 2002
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Science interested me in biology and I had a great advantage of living close to the Forest Preserves, which I supported as County Commissioner
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
perseverance is key to success